German tennis legend Steffi Graf returned to the Center Court to participate in the Warsteiner Champions Trophy in Halle (Westfalen), Germany yesterday. The Champions Trophy is an annual show match prior to the Gerry Weber Open with tennis legends facing each other at the Gerry Weber Stadium.
Steffi Graf faced the media and their questions after the Warsteiner Champions Trophy. Here’s an interview with the former World No. 1!
Q: The match today was your first match on German soil at an on-going tournament after your retirement. How would you describe your emotions?
A: I felt a little bit queasy when I entered the stadium for the warm-up prior to the match. I don’t play in-front of such a huge crowd anymore. But it was a pleasant nervousness, a thrill of anticipation. Later on I had goose bumps with all the fans, the wonderful atmosphere and my fellow players around. It was a perfect day for me. The whole facility has impressed me a lot.
Q: You seem to be very wiry and fit. How did you manage to keep you in shape?
A: My kids keep me fit. We are a very athletic family and we do a lot of sports. Sports are very important to me and it has been always easy for me to be active.
Q: How often do you still play tennis?
A: A few others and I keep us prepared for show matches of our foundation. But I don’t train and play on a daily basis anymore. Well the time in professional tennis has left a mark and I need to dose it.
Q: What would you say to the German women’s tennis prospects Andrea Petkovic and Julia Goerges , if you could give them one advice for their career?
A: I think both of them need to carefully select their events and arrange their season properly. That will be the central point. I consider both players are strong characters and they are capable to handle new charges. A lot of things have changed in the last few months and you need a certain self-confidence to survive. But Andrea and Julia have the needed attributes.
Q: Germany plays host to only one women’s tournament in the WTA calendar. Fans have expressed their desire to have more women’s tournaments in the country with the latest tennis euphoria around. How do your rate the current situation?
A: I always enjoyed playing in-front of my fans on German soil. It is something special. So it does really concern me that we have only one tournament. We used to travel to Leipzig, Hamburg or Berlin in the past and I have wonderful memories on these events. Halle has wonderful grass court tennis tournament for men and it immediately suggest itself that there should be also a women’s competition here.
Q: How often are you in Germany? And what do miss, while living in America?
A: I regularly visit Germany and I will be back in the summer for a considerable time as the children have no school in that period. I do miss the familiar surroundings and the friends, who don’t live to the next door anymore. But I keep my best German memories in my mind!
Q: You will be turning 42 on July 14. Where will spend your birthday?
A: I will be celebrating with my family in Las Vegas.
Q: You spend a lot of time into your foundation. What goals do you for the foundation?
A: The “Childrens for tomorrow” foundation takes care of kids who have been traumatised due to different living conditions. We would like to offer a future to these kids. We recently opened a new foundation building on the complex of the university hospital in Eppendorf (Germany). I would like to return some of the fortune I received during my life to these kids, who desperately need to help. Many of them grow up in war, displacement, abuse or orphanages.
I will be covering the GERRY WEBER OPEN 2011 throughout the week and you can catch all the action on my FACEBOOK fanpage picture gallery: